Monday, May 13, 2013

Night Swimming

The day with spent with my adopted Cuban family. Most of the day we sat on the porch in the shade to escape the heat. Cubans are incredibly self-reliant and resourceful. Things like beer can get thrown in the trash, which I later learned are recovered by people that sort the trash somewhere down the line. Any piece of milled lumber is reused somewhere, somehow. Plastic bags are washed, dried and reused. Before seeing plastic bags being recycled in Cuba, I thought the Pennsylvania Dutch (the Amish) were the only people to clean and reuse plastic bags.

The family had a small room off the kitchen that housed a medium sized pig. The pig eat all the food scraps generated by the extended family. I called the pig "Mr. Tocino" or Mr. Bacon.

I ventured out a few times to get a haircut. Ultimately discovering the barber only kept morning hours. My other quest was to find oil for the motorcycle. It is recommended that that oil and filter be changed every 6000 miles, and it was time. There are many signs advertising Castrol oil, but the shelves were bare of this brand. Cuban "Multi Oil" was the only product available. Checking my luggage at the casa particular returned no oil filter. When leaving the Stahratte in Santiago de Cuba I didn't think I would put so many miles on the bike while in Cuba, so I left them on bolard the boat. An oil change would wait until I got to Cienfuegos when I could retrieve a filter from item left in my bunk. Back at the house Hymen worked on his bicycle, replacing the ball barrings in his back wheel.

Alexander went out at one point and bought beer for everyone. I had been picking up the beer tab at an alarming frequency, so it was nice that someone else sprung for the brews. As a tourist it is expected you pay for everything from taxis to rounds of drinks. There is a disappointing part to funding the various events. Rarely does anyone say "thank you." It is not clear to me if that lack of acknowledgment for the tourist's largess is a characteristic of Latin culture, uncultivated manners in the economically challenged or embarrassment at receiving gift giving from someone who is much more fortunate. Perhaps the sentiments s based on a simple expectation that the person with more shares automatically and the act of giving has no special merit. Perhaps I'll meet a sociologist one day and learn how the social rules and morays are structured.

In the evening we went swimming in an Olympic sized pool down the street. With beer, a bottle of rum, a package of cookies, two dogs and the ubiquitous Cuban cigarettes. I was concerned there would be a charge to enter the swimming pool. Tourist always pay and I left the house without a peso in my pocket. The situation was quickly revealed when we reached the closed pool. The large metal gate was not locked and there was no night guard. This is Cuba. The pool is owned by the people and that night some of the people were going swimming.

Oddly the pool was up a flight of stairs. We climbed one flight of stairs and a huge pool was revealed, replete with swimming lanes. There were no lights, so we swam under the stars. Or in Spanish the estrellas, which sounds very close to the name of the country Australia. Sorry, no lights, no photos...

Soon the boys were in the watered followed by the dogs. Of the two dogs, Lassie turned out to be natural water dog. She jumped into the water quickly and paddled around happily. Even though her legs were too short to climb out of the pool un assisted, she jumped in again and again. I guess she had a lot of faith in her owners; that hey would not let her drown, Her daughter, Mutty, was a reluctant swimmer, only jumping in once or twice the whole night.

Mutty, the non-water dog...
As with swimming everywhere the ladies were the last to take the plunge. The rum bottle was passed from hombre to hombre and the girls stuck to beer. Sneaking into an Olympic size pool at night, with dogs, beer and rum. Only in Cuba. Returning to the house for warm food, we finished the night with rounds of dominos.

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